What Canada Thinks Of You Threatening To Move There
Hi! I'm Mark Hill, Cracked's Canadian correspondent. You may remember me from the time I predicted that Trump wouldn't win the election, or from the time I got my tongue stuck in a vending machine because I thought I could taste the rainbow. If you'd like to call me a libtard or a Cancuck, my email's in my profile. Please don't clog up the comments -- I prefer a personal touch when my mistakes are being rubbed in my face!
The rest of you probably saw that Canada's immigration website crashed from overuse on election night. It's down again as I write this a day later. Celebrities like Amy Schumer and Bryan Cranston led the charge by saying they'd move, and I'm sure they're totally going to follow up on that. But comments from ordinary Americans about moving to Canada have been tinged with a seriousness I haven't seen in previous elections. Even if people get over their knee-jerk response and realize that it's not practical to pack up their life and move to a country where it snows in May, there's a sense of panic in what used to be a joke.
Now, if you're a trans person or a Muslim or someone else who feels legitimately threatened by America's shifting political climate, or if you're terrified about the prospect of losing lifesaving health coverage, you'll find that Canada is a welcoming country. Our government's Twitter page even trolled America with a reminder of that on election night.
But for everyone else -- and I really apologize for how harsh this is going to be -- Canada is not your fucking safety school. If you drive across the border, there will not be a career magically waiting for you in the middle of an economic downturn. If you're a middle-class white guy and your first instinct is to abandon your country when you experience a setback, I'm not sure how you expect to ace a job interview here. "I was sad about my country so I decided to fall back on yours" is not a good answer to "What attracted you to this position?"
I spent a lot of time on social media during election night, because it was a great excuse to not work, and two things stuck out to me. I saw lots of Americans asking themselves how they could have gotten so out of touch with the world, and then several of my American friends with a history of making exhaustingly cliched maple syrup and igloo jokes asked me how my government worked. Because up until then, they had no clue and no interest. That's not an approach to life that helps you settle down in a new country -- it's the approach that got you into trouble in the country you're in now.
I also saw lots of comments about how dreamy the prime minister whom I and 60.5 percent of my fellow electorate didn't vote for is. Because clearly, if there's one salient thing you need to know about a country's leader, it's whether or not they're fuckable. A nationality is not a sports team; you can't just buy a hat and hop on the bandwagon. Canada recently welcomed over 33,000 people fleeing a brutal civil war. If you're not also fleeing hatred, you're going to have to do better than "I lost a fair and democratic election, even though I Tweeted a few zingers about it, so I'm crashing at your place. You guys have a king or whatever, right? Can I have a job? Or do I have to learn the rules of hockey first, eh?"
Canada is not a Shangri-La where all of your problems will be solved. Don't get me wrong, I love my country. I wrote this entire column while getting a free MRI, just because I could. But a politician currently running for a leadership position is praising Trump, we treat our Aboriginal people with horrifying indifference, and Quebec is currently struggling with Islamophobia. I live in a province that recently elected a progressive female leader, but awful attitudes toward women did not suddenly vanish overnight. Vancouver, which Lena Dunham said she'd flee to, is currently experiencing record housing prices, thanks to foreign buyers like Dunham who love its idyllic climate, as well as record homelessness, thanks to owners of expensive houses who think homeless people are an inconvenient eyesore blighting the idyllic climate.
It's not that any of those problems are insurmountable. I think they can all be addressed. But when people talk about moving to Canada, they tend to picture this:
You won't get that. You'll get this:
That's still a great place to live, but you have to be willing to shovel the snow. Which brings me to a secret that many Canadians don't want Americans to know -- we like you a lot, and we hope that you work hard to address the issues that have divided you. I say that because in the coming months, you're going to be seeing a lot of this.
That is, snide remarks about what a dumb country you have. Yeah, they're coming. We hated George W. Bush, and I have no doubt we'll be making fun of Trump far more, and with all the undeserved arrogance of people whom the universe randomly placed in a different geographical location. So before that begins, let's be clear that we still think you're fantastic. But there's something you need to understand.
No American I've ever talked to has realized just how much Canadian culture relies on the fact that we are not American. When you share the world's longest border with the only world superpower, a country with 10 times your population, a constant reminder that "We aren't them" is a requirement to avoid being culturally overwhelmed. Our old joke is that living next to America is like sleeping next to an elephant -- even if it means you no harm, an errant twitch in the night can crush you. Hell, it's even in our commercials. My generation has this beer ad memorized, and it came out years before we could drink.
Not that Molson qualifies as beer.
Take a look at a couple of the comments on that ad:
Those are just random trolls, but when Canada-U.S. relations are at their lowest, that's how we think all Americans view us. Because you don't have to care about us. And that's fine. We're not the superpower. It's not like we're experts on Italy or Mongolia or any other country that's as irrelevant to us as we are to you. But we're experts on you because it's impossible not to be. And when you struggle, our arrogant side can't help but laugh and think that maybe you should have paid a little more attention to us after all. We don't want to be like you right now. But you can't keep an elephant from rolling over onto you.
So we complain about how vapid Hollywood is, and then we watch your movies. We joke about how fat Americans are, then eat your fast food. We make sarcastic "U-S-A!" chants whenever we're mocking someone who's being too patriotic, then passionately watch Canada/USA hockey games you barely care about. We listen to your music, and then we make our own music about how your country terrifies us.
Then you ignore it, because you think Justin Bieber is the pinnacle of Canadian cultural output.
We love you and fear you in equal measure. Because you have the power to produce pop culture we adore and people we consider friends and family, but you also have the power to pressure us to join wars we have no interest in and reshape our economy with mere ripples of your domestic policy. You have a responsibility to the world, whether you like it or not. And abandoning it is not a good reaction to discovering it.
So please don't move to Canada and turn your back on your country because you lost one election. We are not an island, and America isn't going to look any different to you from here. If you don't like what just happened in the United States, work hard to change it. Because if you give up and resign yourself to accepting the politics of anger as the new norm, that anger is going to follow you, no matter how far north you go.
Mark is on Twitter, has a book, and would like you to send him some Cherry Coke because it's kind of hard to find up here.
For more post-election reactions check out A Letter To My Wife After The Election and Dear White Friends: Stop Saying Everything Is Going To Be OK.
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